Harold Joseph Murray
1919/10/12 - Born Doncaster, Yorkshire
Son of Thomas William and Ethel (nee Woodward) Murray
Harold was a Regular Soldier
Next of Kin Wife, of 34 Lay Lane, King's-Teighton, Devon
Cynthia Budd and Christine Tomlinson supplied the photos
The 4th Suffolk Regiment were formed with teritorials from the Suffolk area. After some basic training they were put on guard duty in Lowestoft, patrolling the dry docks where Allied submarines were serviced. A few days were then spent at Loddon before returning to the Waverly hotel, in St Olaves, returning to guard duty at Haddiscoe railway station. Further training took place at Langley Park, Loddon, where marching, and camp life were the order of the day. A farm at Cawston in Norfolk was the next venue, with the luxury of sleeping in a farmers barn but the training was increased. The next stage was from late July to the end of September doing guard duty near the harbour mouth at Great Yarmouth. The guard duty consisted of 24 hour stints, two hours on, four hours off, one day a week was a rest day.
A move to Hatley St George, Bedfordshire occurred in September 1940 living in disused cottages on the Hatley Hall Estate. Training was increased with long route marches. Just before the new year the battalion was moved to Stobbs Camp, Harwick in Scotland, and housed in Nissan huts, the weather was bitter. The training lasted till April.
The battalion was then bussed to Pilsmouth Bleach Mills, Bury in Lancashire where training continued. In August the battalion was moved again to wooden huts near Hereford , where training and farm work was carried out.
King George VI inspected the battalion in Hereford at the cathedral whilst the Suffolk Regimental band from Bury St Edmunds played.
Once more we were on the move - it was dark when we left Hereford. We knew we were going abroad, but not where. The battalion was then entrained to Liverpool, where the boarded the S.S. Andes, it was believed their destination was the Middle East.
The S.S. Andes passage was to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, across a very rough sea.
The battalion then changed ship to the American liner ‘Wakefield’ and became part of the Convoy William Sail 12X. The convoy sailed to Trinidad and then on to Cape Town in South Africa, berthing on the 9th December for a three stay, shore leave was granted. The Japanese had invaded Malaya the day before the convoy reached Cape Town.
Up till now the destination of the convoy was the Middle East but with Japan entering the war, it became obvious that the 18th division would be sent to the Far East. At this point the convoy was split with one part going to Mombassa and then on to Malaya and the Wakefield going to India, arriving at Bombay on the 5th January 1942, then on by train to Ahmenager, which was inland from Bombay where more training took place for the Far eastern climate. The 54th Infantry, which included the 4th Suffolks stayed at Ahmenager for three weeks, then back to Bombay where the Wakefield had waited, sailing once again this time to Singapore arriving just as the causeway was blown between Malaya and Singapore.
Singapore by this time was under siege and the battalion found themselves in old tents in a rubber plantation. Orders to defend the Golf Course which was bombed directly it went dark.
Orders to retreat to the outskirts of Singapore were given just as they arrived at their destination on the 15th February 1942, Percival surrendered, just 18 days after the Wakefield had docked at Singapore.
The day after orders were given to march to Changi which was about 15 miles on the South West side of the island. The battalion was at first in Roberts barracks, but this was then used as a hospital so the battalion had to find what shelter they could.
1942/02/15 - Singapore surrendered
Harold escaped the surrender of Singapore by escaping to Java.
1942/04/17 - WO 417/41, Casualty List No. 800. Reported ‘Missing’.
1943/03/18 - WO 417/58, Casualty List No. 1086. (Previously shown on Casualty List No. 800 as Missing, 15/02/1942). Now reported a ‘Prisoner of War’.
1942/03/09 - Captured Java
Japanese Index Card - Side One
Japanese Index Card - Side Two
1942/09/14 - Transported from Batavia, Java to Singapore with Java Party 1 in the Nishi Maru
725 PoWs (700 British, 25 Australians)
1942/09/18 - Arrived Singapore
1942/10/09 - Transported to Kuching, Borneo in Hiteru Maru which included Java Party 1 and 2
The Japanese Certificate of death for Harold is below. As the Japanese covered up the Labuan Atrocity it could be false.
Buried in Combined Grave with 270 PoWs
Naeda Island Grave Yard
North Borneo, Mili Provence
1945/07/10 - WO417/94-1, Casualty List No. 1804. Previously reported on Casualty List No. 1086 as Prisoner of War in Japanese Hands. Previous Theatre of War, Malaya. Now reported ‘Died’.
Cynthia Budd has been working on the names commemorated on the Shropham Memorial.
Roll of Honour
History of the Japanese Atrocity on Labuan Island
At Sandakan, Borneo in June 1944, Hushijima received orders to transfer 100 prisoners, which included one Australian and one officer, Flight-Lieutenant Blackledge, to the west coast of Labuan Island. The party were to work on an airfield, built to defend the coast and Brunei Bay. The party were under the command of Captain Nagai.
In August a further 200 were transferred from Kuching, these included Captain Campbell, RAMC. The party were mainly British with five Australians.
By December 1944 more then one third of those who left Sandakan had died on Labuan Island from malaria, this was mainly due to the shortage of food making them easy prey to decease.
Colonel Suga then put Sergeant- Major Sugino in charge to move the remainder to Kuching, by the time of the move in June 1945, the death toll had risen to 188 of the 300 prisoners. Those 112 who remained were moved on the 7th June 1944.
The British reached Bruinei and were housed in a hut originally occupied by Japanese Coolies. On the 8th May the remaining 81 were moved to Kuala Belait, leaving behind 30 who had died and one missing, thought to have died after an escape attempt in Kempei-tai hands. Seven Indian soldiers who were being held by the Kempei-tai joined this party making it 88.
After the next move to Miri on 27th May 1945, 37 more prisoners had perished, the party was now 51. The prisoners were ordered to Tanjung Lobang, a compound behind the Residents House. The barbed wire compound was built in 1941 as a Japanese Interment Camp.
On 8th June 1945 Allied ships approached the west coast, Sugino moved the 46 remaining prisoners down a jungle track to Riam Road where they stopped near a police station. 14 fit prisoners then went back to the Residents House compound to pick up food, they made two trips by this time 2 more prisoners had died.
Sugino was then ordered to take his 44 remaining prisoners into the mountains, after two hours of travelling they reached the 6 mile peg and were housed in a small house. Sugino then burnt all the papers and effects of the dead prisoners. On the 10th June another food party was sent out leaving 28 prisoners under Blackledge at the 6 mile peg. On this date the Australian 9th Division landed at Brunei Bay, less then 200 kilometres away. Japanese policy dictated that under attack all prisoners would be killed. Sugino later reported that one prisoner tried to escape and the guards opened fire, bringing the other prisoners out of the house, they were shot or bayoneted by the guards, killing all 28 prisoners.
Sugino then took some of the guards back towards the Resident House compound and met the returning food party at the 5 mile peg. Once again Sugino claimed that one prisoner tried to escape, the prisoners all died.
Not one of the 300 prisoners sent to Labuan Island survived.
Sugino was shot on Miri for murder.
Jayne Smith - Niece
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
KEW Files:- WO 361/1502, WO 361/1676, WO 361/2178, WO 392/25, WO 361/2207, WO 345/37, WO 361/1625,